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       January 2004



Cover Stories …


By Glen Stephens.


Two new Catalogues released -
and a bizarre eBay realisation!



         More new Catalogues .....

A new version of the 'Comprehensive' Catalogue of Australian Stamps was published last month. I have been using this book since then, and must say it is a delight to handle. See the page ad for this in the November ‘Stamp News’.

Anyone who needs a new catalogue covering Australia, AAT, and Australian States should really track down one of these. Dealer colleague Michael Eastick in Melbourne is the Editor and he like all leading dealers or the publisher can supply them retail of course.

Published by Victoria Stamp Traders the price is $39.95 for ‘Wiro-O-bound’ and $59.95 for ‘case bound’ – i.e. hard covered. I have absolutely no idea why hard covers cost $20 extra but they do. The 'Wiro-O-Bound' at $39.95 is really excellent buying.

I just LOVE the ‘Wire-O-Bound’ version – and have loved it from the first Edition some years back. This is a large, heavy, 'solid' feeling catalogue - it weighs over a kilogram - with 262 FULL SIZE A-4 pages. The 23 ring ‘Wire-O-Bound’ version is a delight to use. Each page lays FLAT. I HATE using catalogues that do not lie flat when I am at the desk looking up or pricing stamps. The new Stanley Gibbons mentioned below is a perfect example of one that does NOT! Hopeless. Had to tear out pages of heavy card ads to assist.

I find this new catalogue is the easiest Australian catalogue to use.

            The new 'Comprehensive' catalogue


The full colour stamp illustrations face the prices and descriptions in every case.

Stamps are priced mint and used, on FDC - and in the decimal era also in PO pack, and with a leading dealer doing the prices they are spot on the market prices.

Kangaroos are listed with 'Specimen' overprints priced, as are all 'OS' perfins, large and small. Ditto the KGV heads which also clearly show the different dies - which confuse many collectors.

The type face is large enough so I can read it quickly and readily. Some other catalogues have 'saved' on page numbers by reducing font size, and I simply cannot read it in my declining years!
Most of my customers have even worse eyesight so that is a silly move making fonts so small. Each page is on extra heavyweight gloss stock. Colour reproductions on modern issues are superb.

A great tool for either dealer or collector. The Australia States section is a valuable resource. The illustrations in colour are very old and 'washed out' it seems, and the perforations appear bizarrely ‘painted’ in by printer in many cases. Surely this can be overcome with new scans?

A few suggestions I’d suggest are considered for next edition to make this truly a ‘Comprehensive’ catalogue:

1.  Expand the Postal stationary list beyond PSE’s to cover all official Stationary. This will not take many pages and experienced dealers like Gary Watson can input 100% accurate prices.

2.  Add a table for Post Office year albums.  Regular and Executive. With issue price and market price for each.If there is one in there now have no idea where to locate it – needs to be at rear of stamp listings.

There is a short listing of ‘Maximum' cards buried for some reason among the 1993 stamp issues. This listing in my view should also be at end of the stamp issues, along with year albums and Official Stationary and SHOULD include the later APF issues - and Replica Cards.

The listing of AAT material is second to none. FDC (Australian and base sets are specified and all priced) and PO packs are all priced – no other catalogue anywhere does this. How many readers knew an Australian cancelled FDC of the 1979 Ships was worth $600? Not many I can bet. Little gems like that will pay for this catalogue in no time. Buy one today.

                                               SG Catalogues - what is going on?

Sadly from where I sit, Stanley Gibbons seem to have totally lost the plot in recent years.

I hear stories that young hot shots with MBA’s or whatever have got in there with ‘great ideas’ to revolutionize their catalogue business.

I have no idea if this is correct, however the evidence is clear to see – Gibbons have lost their way with catalogues. The ‘young Turks' seem to have initially convinced the company that placing stamp catalogues on the internet on a pay-for-use type basis is the future of the industry. It is not. I could have told them that for nothing!

Stamp collecting is a super conservative hobby that has as its largest clientele persons who are retired or very close to it. A LOT of these folks do not even own a computer, must less feel inclined to pay an annual fee to look up stamp values on-line.

I spend 10 hours EACH day on computers, and would no more choose to look up stamp values on line than fly to the moon. When I am pricing collections I want to be seated at a big table, with the applicable catalogue laying FLAT next to the stamps I am looking up. A young MBA whizz-kid does not realise this I am sure.

So the big selling 2 volume British Commonwealth ‘Part One’ catalogue was ceased in production a couple of years ago in the great wisdom of SG. (I still have a few sets on sale for $90 for anyone wrestling with the ‘new order’ of things!)

The 'Rest Of World' catalogue was in 2 volumes, but with no Mint sheets or watermarks or specialist info etc were ever listed.

This year SG had another brain wave. They issued the Commonwealth catalogue in ONE volume, and did most (but not all) of the illustrations in colour.

Yes it looked better, and the paper was whiter, but much of the detail/content was sacrificed. Watermarks, errors, perforation varieties, booklets, and most explanatory notes etc. Suited some collectors but useless to anyone remotely specialized or for most dealers.

Whether this version will be issued in 2004 is anyone's guess. I have these debut 2003 versions on sale at 35% off if anyone would like one -

The new 1840-1952 SG Specialised


What has recently been released is the 2004 edition in one volume of ‘Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1952’. This retains all the info you USED to get in each year’s ‘Part One’ but of course goes only to KGVI reign. The trade-off to some extent is that 'most' of the illustrations are now in colour.

It is an essential catalogue for anyone collecting the pre-QEII era. For Australia and New Zealand there are substantial price increases I noted in many areas, especially many Australian States issues. As the ACSC does not list States issues, this volume of SG is essential for those who collect the area. Retail price in Australia is $179.

Allan Pitt, The Managing Director of Australian SG agent Renniks Publications, told me today: ‘sales have been excellent for this single volume. We are getting excellent feedback on this catalogue'.

I personally HATE the page ads on heavy card SG stitch into these catalogues in recent years. The pages do not lie flat due to them. Keep all ads on normal paper weight OR place them near front and back covers. If Sandafayre or Buchanan Street Stamps are reading this - I just tore out your mega buck ad heavy card pages and tossed them in the bin. If they were at either end of the book I would not have. Pitt advised me that he expects arrival into Australia early January of yet another new Gibbons idea. A FOUR volume catalogue set in 'colour', covering the World and British Commonwealth

This will include (it appears) miniature sheets from Commonwealth countries and M/S from some foreign counties issued in the past year. But apart from that will still be 'Simplified'.

Retail price on this set will be $A530. It still will not offer all things to all collectors, but right now there is no alternative.

                                                    Another over-priced eBay lot

I love some of the zany philatelic things I see sold on eBay.

I am not sure if it is a case of a seller not knowing anything about their material happening upon a buyer(s) who also knows nothing about what they are doing ... but the end result is often amazing. A free market at its most extreme.

I recently saw one that takes the cake. On October 14 an auction by eBay seller ‘erasja’ offered a small piece torn off a letter. A piece of kiloware that I’d have not have looked twice at but tossed in my ‘junk’ box fruit carton, which sells for $40-$50 when full.
Most dealers would have done just the same. ‘erasja’ called the item – ‘upside down 1 cent stamp Gotta see’.

Would you pay $140 for THIS?!

The lot had a starting price of 98¢. There were 437 views of the sale and it attracted 12 bids from 8 different bidders.
The price paid was $US102 – or about $A140.

The piece is actually WORTH a few cents to anyone living in the real world. Maximum. It has the very minimum catalogue value of 20¢ as Scott 3505a in the current 2004 catalogue. However this example has a badly torn or mangled corner - so it is literally worthless - to all but eight eBay bidders it seems!

For those who still are not following this story the stamp was ONLY issued by the US Post Office with inverted center in 2001 – along with the 2¢ and 4¢. These are NOT errors - there was NO other way to buy them except with the design ‘centre inverted’ as shown.
Caveat emptor indeed! Anyone that notices similar wacky eBay stamp results please contact me. I get a good laugh when I see them, and will share spectacular examples with readers. When I think the buyer for $A140 could have bought a superb used 10/- Kangaroo and have had change left over I shake my head with wonderment.

  Season’s Greetings!

Most readers will likely see this column over the Christmas/New Year holiday break. I wish you and your family a restful and peaceful holiday, and many thanks to readers who have contacted me through the year.

I have been travelling a lot this year as always. I visited about a dozen different countries this year, which is about usual. Many of my recent exploits are on-line at along with photos. In the one month before I typed this piece I flew about 50,000 paid miles all over the place!

For 20 years I have had a tradition of spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve at interesting places each year. This year booked a 35,000 mile round trip. First up to South America in December via San Francisco and Washington. Then the long flight to Buenos Aires, then north to Sao Paulo Brazil. From there a long flight to La Paz Bolivia - at 11,972 feet (3,650m) above sea level the world's highest large city, for Christmas Day. Flying in from sea level is not a bright idea unless you slowly acclimatise to the far less oxygenated air – last time I was there I came down with raging altitude sickness for 3 days! Remember La Paz in the Andes is 65% HIGHER than the tallest point on the Australian continent - Mt. Kosciusko at elevation 7,200 feet.

Then I take a trip across Lake Titicaca the world's highest navigable lake at 12,506ft (3,812m) and visit the Uros Indians who live on reed islands in the lake centre. Then to Cuzco for New Year's Eve (2nd time I've done that!) and later a 3rd visit to Macchu Picchu ‘The Lost City Of The Incas’. Cuzco (and environs) is one of the most interesting cities on earth in my opinion. Then a flight to Lima Peru for the long trip back home the same route via Argentina in early January.

Seasons Greetings! I wish you and yours a restful and peaceful holiday! I've been travelling a lot this year - many of my recent exploits are on-line at For 20 years I've had a tradition of spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve at interesting places. 2003 will be a 35,000 mile round trip. First up to South America late December via SFO and Washington. Then the long flight to Buenos Aires, then to Sao Paulo Brazil. From there to La Paz Bolivia - at 11,972 feet (3650m) above sea level - the world's highest city - for Christmas Day. Flying in from sea level is not a bright idea – last time there I came down with raging altitude sickness for 3 days! Then a trip across Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake at 12,506ft to visit the Uros Indians on reed islands. Then to Cuzco for NYE (2nd time I've done that!) and later a 3rd visit to Macchu Picchu "The Lost City Of The Incas". Then to Lima Peru for the long trip back home mid Jan.




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